Customer support is an oft-forgotten part of the sales cycle, but it’s critical to a company’s long-term success. With the increasing reliance on electronic communications, email automation is a must for companies – large and small – that want to keep their customers happy.
Strategic leverage of email automation can improve your customer support while streamlining your communication with customers and reducing demands on your customer support team. It’s a win-win for the customer and your business.
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What is email automation?
Email automation is a broad term for any program, application, add-on, or system that leverages technology to improve sending, retrieving, and storing emails.
Email automation also uses analytics to help companies pinpoint and fine-tune their marketing efforts. By looking at how prospects and customers react to emails – do they read them and actually click on the links within them? – companies can improve their electronic communications. [Read related article: Email Analytics You Should Be Tracking]
Contrary to what the term “automated” implies, automated email marketing and communications shouldn’t be cold and robotic. In practice (and when done properly), email automation should result in a more personalized experience for the customer.
The customer should feel that the emails they receive are relevant and interesting, not impersonal, cookie-cutter communications that don’t speak to their needs or interests. Email automation can help with all of this.
Benefits of email automation
Email automation offers these noteworthy benefits for businesses and, ultimately, their customers:
- You can boost revenue while saving time. Automation can help you convert leads into customers, increasing revenue. Automated communication allows you to streamline your email marketing strategies to reach new consumers and develop those relationships, while also giving your employees a chance to focus on other important tasks.
- You can offer more personalized communication. Personalizing your communication with your customers is an excellent way to increase your revenue and click-through rates. Companies that personalize communications are likely to see a significant increase in email engagement, as consumers find these communications more relevant and intriguing. According to research by Experian, recipients are 26% more likely to open emails with personalized subject lines.
- You develop a deeper understanding of customers. With email automation, you can learn more about your customers and understand their interests. By observing what your recipients interact with, such as links in an email, you can determine which types of communications and messages are worth pursuing and which ones are not producing a return on investment.
- You can nurture your relationships with existing customers. While marketing often focuses on attracting new customers, it’s crucial to look to your existing customer base as a potential revenue stream. With email automation, you can easily retain current customers – and reactivate stagnant ones – by sending them emails with incentives, surveys and loyalty programs.
Tip: Develop a re-engagement email strategy to incentivize your least active subscribers by introducing new value.
Examples of email automation
Here are some standard types of emails that are well suited to automation.
- Welcome emails: An email welcoming a new subscriber is an excellent way to introduce them to your services and encourage them to interact and shop with you. According to Campaign Monitor, consumers are 10 times more likely to open welcome emails than other email types. This automated communication is a chance to introduce your company, engage with the customer, and highlight services you think will interest them without taking sales representatives’ time.
- Promotional emails: Automated promotional emails are a great way to drive sales and boost brand awareness. Alerts about discounts and sales events can be sent automatically based on a customer’s purchasing and browsing habits. For example, a customer who recently purchased a kitchen chair may benefit from a promotional email offering discounts on other kitchen furniture.
- Abandoned cart notifications: Abandoned cart emails remind customers that they have products in their cart but haven’t yet purchased them. These automated emails can prompt customers who may have forgotten about their cart and can even be used to offer a discount or recommend a similar product. For example, you could gently encourage customers to complete their purchase by including a code for a 15% discount.
Tip: When sending abandoned cart notifications, consider A/B testing different messages and offers to find out what resonates with your customers.
6 email automation tips to enhance customer support
Fortunately, automating customer emails is easier than ever. Here are some tips on how to use email automation technologies to make your customers happier:
1. Personalize outgoing emails automatically.
One of the most basic forms of email automation is mail merge. Using data from the best customer relationship management (CRM) software, such as Salesforce, you can automatically embed a client’s name and company information into an email.
But the possibilities of personalization go beyond including a name in an email. You can also use CRM software to record information about product features that may interest a potential client. You could then use that information to start an automatic email flow that incorporates specific information about that feature in a series of personalized email messages.
2. Provide consistency with email templates.
When responding to support requests, your tech support team could waste a lot of time and energy writing new emails for each issue that customers experience. Instead, use prewritten email templates to ensure every customer gets the same high-level answers to their questions. You can customize email templates for individual recipients to add a personal touch.
3. Gather feedback with embedded polls and surveys.
Find out what your customers really think by embedding a poll or survey into an email. Rather than outbound Net Promoter links, in-email polls can be a great way to gather customer feedback. In-email surveys are a convenient and easy way for customers to share their experiences, enabling your business to collect voluntarily provided data to improve customer service and your products.
4. Schedule emails to send later.
The ability to schedule emails can be a massive benefit to salespeople, staff and business owners. Let’s say you have a small business with a team that works remotely at various times of the day, but you want to give the impression of a traditional company with regular hours. Scheduling emails to send later can help. An employee who works at 10 p.m. can follow up on emails and schedule other emails to go out first thing in the morning.
Tip: You can use email scheduling in many instances. For example, you might schedule a follow-up email with a customer for two weeks after your last response to them.
5. Integrate with other systems.
We’ve already discussed the benefits of integrating a CRM tool with your email communications, but other integrations can also significantly benefit your business. You can integrate your email with other platforms and SaaS offerings, including Google Calendar, Dropbox, Twitter and GitHub. Connect emails with tweets or include attachments from your preferred cloud storage provider. This functionality makes email faster and more convenient, resulting in quicker responses to customers.
6. Leverage email automation to improve your customer support.
You can make your customers happier by applying the best practices of email automation to your next email marketing campaign or customer follow-up time. Features like automated personalization, email templates, and embedded polls and surveys can help you engage and entice your customer base. They will appreciate your business more, and you will save time and money in the process.
FYI: The best email marketing services offer marketing automation tools that can help you create and send effective content more efficiently.
Examples of good automated emails for customer service
The following example offers a personalization option so you can directly address the customer. The email provides business hours to let the customer know when to expect a response.
Hi, [insert name]. Thank you for reaching out. We received your email and will get back to you as soon as possible. Our regular business hours are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. ET.
This second email lets the recipient know you’re working on the issue and that they can expect a reply soon. It also offers an expedited way to contact your business if the issue can’t wait.
Hi there. We are reviewing your message and will get back to you as quickly as possible. In the meantime, feel free to contact us by phone to speak directly with one of our associates.
Matt Shealy contributed to the writing and research in this article.